Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 3.20.19

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Here's your AM rundown of people, politics and policy in the Sunshine State.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

Andrew Gillum promises a “major announcement” Wednesday at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens and speculation about what he will say is all over the board.

Could it be a run for President? Well, why not, it seems like everyone else is.

Pins and needles: The day of Andrew Gillum’s big announcement has arrived. So, what is the big news? President? Senate? We will know soon enough.

It’s too early to announce a run for the U.S. Senate, where Marco Rubio is entrenched until 2022 and Rick Scott just got there.

Maybe he is going to endorse someone in the crowded Democratic presidential field.

Or maybe it’s the formation of something policy-related.

He was a strong advocate of expanded health care in Florida last fall in his campaign for Governor. He narrowly lost to Ron DeSantis and recently landed a gig on CNN as a political analyst.

He also continues to be involved with a state ethics commission investigation about gifts he accepted while Mayor of Tallahassee. He has denied wrongdoing, but in January, the commission found probable he had accepted the gifts.

Gillum has vowed to keep fighting for the issues he stressed during the campaign.

“This fight is about the future of our state and our nation,” Gillum said in his original statement announcing the event.

“I’m not going anywhere — and I know neither are you. We have to stand strong and speak out. I believe that we will win. I’ll see you on March 20.”

Doors open at 5 p.m. for the event.

And here’s the answer … color me shocked that the Gillum camp did not give this storyline to Florida Politics. After all, I’ve been sooo good to them,

Gillum to launch Florida voter-registration campaign to trip up Trump” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida — Gillum has launched a Florida voter registration group dedicated to defeating President Donald Trump’s re-election chances in the nation’s largest swing state. The former Tallahassee mayor and Democratic nominee for governor is expected to formally announce the effort today at a speech in Miami Gardens. He registered the group — Bring it Home Florida, named after his signature phrase — last week with the state election division overseeing third-party voter registration organizations. Progressive activists who supported Gillum in last year’s gubernatorial race have speculated that he might mount a bid for president. But for now, it appears he’s going to focus on increasing the number of voters in his home state.

Welcome to the worldEve Alexandra Clements, born March 18 at 6:30 a.m., weighing 6 pounds, 9.8 ounces. Proud father Joe Clements says both mom, the incredible Sara Clements, and baby are doing well.


@RealDonaldTrump: The Democrats are getting very ‘strange.’ They now want to change the voting age to 16, abolish the Electoral College, and Increase significantly the number of Supreme Court Justices. Actually, you’ve got to win it at the Ballot Box!

@marcorubio: We must prevent further destabilization of essential institutions. Court packing is quickly becoming a litmus test for 2020 Democratic candidates. Therefore I will be introducing a constitutional amendment to keep the number of seats on #SCOTUS at 9.

@GovRonDeSantis: Today I’m announcing the first Circuit Court judicial appointment of my administration. I’m excited to appoint Judge Stephen Everett to the Second Circuit. Judge Everett will bring strong work ethic and humility to his new role on the Second Circuit.

@bruceritchie: State appeals court again (and again) denies Florida DEP rehearing request on drilling permit

@mcimaps: Well @JamesGrantFL can claim all he wants that his legislation isn’t a Poll Tax, but it is. His Amendment 4 bill weakens an amendment passed by 64% of voters and passed in every State House, State Senate, and Congressional District in Florida.

@TheZervPipe: House Representative @RalphMassullo follows @NikkiFriedFL in emphasizing the value of industrial hemp to FL’s economy; touches quickly on the value of education (including school choice) and picks up on @desloge‘s overpopulation of jails note (“we need our laws to be consistent”)

@fineout: Fla. Department of State spokeswoman said today that the agency will “soon begin forwarding any credible and reliable matches” to local supervisors of people who the state believes are still ineligible to vote even after passage of Amendment 4.

@ChipLaMarca: I’m proud to support computer science education. I want to thank my friend @sheelavanhoose and @codeorg for hosting our @GovRonDeSantis @BillGalvano @SenMannyDiazJr and our business leaders who realize that the expansion of our economy requires STEM education.

@PublicSchoolSup: 3 key Guardian Program panel takeaways: 1. Every district/community is different. 2. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to school safety. 3. All FL superintendents embrace their constitutional authority/duty to make decisions in the best interest of their school district.

@AP: Florida prosecutors offer a plea deal to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and other men charged with paying for illicit sex at a massage parlor. The men were offered the standard diversion program offered to first-time offenders.

@JohnBrownTV: Fun Non-Fact: “It is a state law in Florida that in order to exit a building, you must pass through a gift shop.”


Scott Maddox corruption trial begins (maybe) — 8; Major League Baseball opening day — 9; Final season of ‘Veep’ begins — 11; Masters Tournament begins — 22; Final season of ‘Game of Thrones’ begins — 25; Easter — 32; Tampa mayoral runoff election — 34; 2019 Legislative Session ends (maybe) — 44; Mother’s Day — 53; Memorial Day — 68; 2020 Democratic presidential primary debates start — 79; 2019 General Election — 233; Iowa Caucuses — 320; Florida’s presidential primary — 363; 2020 General Election — 594.


Spending for students: Senate releases pricey education plan” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — The increase to the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) would bring per-student spending to $7,779, up from $7,429. Total funding for FEFP under the plan is $22.2 billion. The spending plan is more expensive than what DeSantis has recommended. But Education Appropriations Chair Kelli Stargel said the proposal signals her chamber is prioritizing education: “I think what you’re seeing with this Senate is that we do value education — all education, including public education. We put the money there to help support that.”

Big price tag: Kelli Stargel says education will be a top priority in the state’s 2019-2020 budget. And the numbers bear that out. Image via Phil Sears.

House cuts tourism, economic development money” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — The tourism-marketing agency VISIT FLORIDA would only be funded for three months, while Enterprise Florida wouldn’t get any state money as part of a budget proposal released by the House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Also left out of the House proposal was a continuation of an $85-million-a-year economic-development effort, known as the Job Growth Grant Fund, that was created in a compromise between the House and former Gov. Scott. Meanwhile, the House would set up a $50 million grant program to offset local and county revenue losses and operating costs from Hurricane Michael, and the state Division of Emergency Management would receive money for 20 new positions.

Ron DeSantis environmental projects get House support” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — DeSantis would get nearly all the money he’s requested for environmental projects in an initial House budget proposal for next year. A $3.97 billion proposal for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission include $607.4 million for Everglades restoration and water-improvement projects such as combating future outbreaks of toxic algae and red tide. DeSantis asked for $625 million as the first part of an ambitious $2.5 billion in funding over the next four years. House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Chairwoman Holly Raschein praised work of the state agencies.

Panel proposes cuts in higher education funding“ via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — If Florida’s state colleges and universities seem to have large balances of unspent money each year, then they must be getting too much, state Rep. Randy Fine concluded in announcing proposed cuts in higher education funding for the next fiscal year budget. Fine, chair of the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, laid out his proposal for the committee’s budget requests to include $135 million being lopped off the overall State University System’s operating money for Florida’s 12 public universities.

House looks at APD, trimming hospital costs” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — House Republicans released a proposed health-care budget and an accompanying bill that could lead to putting people with disabilities in managed-care plans. The proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year also would make permanent a $103 million reduction to the state’s Medicaid program and reduce Medicaid spending at Florida’s hospitals by about $111 million in federal and state funds. Those reductions would come in reimbursements for inpatient and outpatient care. The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee did not receive any public testimony about Chairwoman MaryLynn Magar’s proposed budget. But the accompanying bill, which would make necessary statutory changes to carry out the budget, passed by just a one-vote margin with all the Democrats on the committee voting against it.


DeSantis appoints Stephen Everett in first circuit judge pick” via Florida Politics — In his first naming of a state trial court judge, DeSantis appointed Leon County Judge Everett to replace retiring Circuit Judge Karen Gievers in Tallahassee. Everett, appointed county judge by then-Gov. Scott in 2016, appeared with DeSantis at a news conference in The Capitol. “I’m impressed with Judge Everett’s temperament, his knowledge of the law and understanding of the proper role of a judge,” DeSantis told reporters. “He will bring a real strong work ethic, great intellect and humility to his new role as a circuit judge.”





Here comes the (new) judge: Ron DeSantis made his first circuit judge pick, naming Stephen Everett to replace the retiring Karen Gievers as Leon County circuit judge.

After sexual assault at Florida teen prison, state awards firm $16M deal” via Daniel Ducassi of Florida Phoenix — The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice signed a $16 million contract last month with a private youth prison company facing a string of troubles in the last year, including official findings of “substantial evidence” of child abuse by its staff. With the new six-year contract, Nevada-based private youth prison firm Rite of Passage holds more than $60 million worth of contracts with the state of Florida to manage several of DJJ’s residential detention facilities. The state didn’t sign the contract until February 18, more than a month after DeSantis took over the administration. The new contract marks a continuation of business as usual at Florida’s agency charged with helping redirect the lives of troubled youth.

— 2019 SESSION —

Amendment 4 enabling bill approved by House panel” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A bill set to define when felons have completed their sentences and can vote again was approved by the Florida House Criminal Justice Subcommittee against a backdrop of intense criticism that it goes too far in defining when sentences are complete. The subcommittee voted a split vote after Chairman James Grant made an impassioned and indignant appeal that the criticism wrongly characterized PCB CRJ 19-03 as a Republican attempt to clamp down on voting rights of felons. He lashed out at the testimony and media statements made by proponents of Amendment 4, charging that they misstated the intentions behind the bill, which he said were only to assure that the statutes and Florida Constitutional requirements are met.

Highway construction bill speeds through Senate committee” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — A bill that would pave the way for three mammoth road projects cleared its second Senate committee Tuesday. SB 7068, sponsored by Thonotosassa Sen. Tom Lee, would extend the Suncoast Parkway to the Georgia border, connect it to the Florida Turnpike and fund the construction of a new highway connecting Polk and Collier counties. The bill, a priority of Senate President Bill Galvano, funds the roads projects at $128 million in the 2019-20 budget, with $45 million of that cash coming from the State Transportation Trust Fund and $83 million from general revenue. It was amended to address concerns from environmental groups such as the Sierra Club of Florida.

With one exception …Task forces would review toll road plans” via the News Service of Florida —  Lee said each task force — one per proposed road — would have to hold public meetings and evaluate the economic and environmental impacts of each project. Galvano’s plan would extend the Suncoast Parkway from the Tampa Bay area north to the Georgia border, extend the Florida Turnpike west to hook up with the Suncoast Parkway and build a new transportation corridor from Polk County to Collier County. The Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee approved the plan after adding an amendment that included the task forces.

Just a small speed bump: Bill Galvano’s highway construction bill is speeding through the Senate, with just one change — a task force for each proposed road, with public hearings, economic and environmental impact studies. Image via Colin Hackley.

What Marva Johnson is reading —House panel OKs 1 percent cut to state communications services tax” via Florida Politics — The tax that Floridians pay on their mobile phone service and satellite TV would drop 1 percent under a bill cleared Tuesday. The House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee unanimously approved the measure (HB 693) in its first hearing. Rep. Fischer, a Jacksonville Republican, filed it. Among the states that charge a communications services tax, or CST, Florida’s is the ninth highest in the country among the states, according to Florida Internet & Television, ranking in the top 20 percent of the most expensive states.

Technology reorganization bill — a DeSantis priority — moves in House” via Florida Politics — A priority of DeSantis to get rid of the Agency for State Technology (AST) and fold its work into the Department of Management Services (DMS) unanimously cleared a House panel Tuesday. The bill (PCB GOT 19-01) also creates a “cloud-first policy” for state agencies, requiring each “to first consider cloud computing solutions when sourcing technology” … The agency came under fire in 2017 after a report by the Florida Auditor General’s office laid out a laundry list of security and other problems.

Autonomous vehicle bill passes second committee stop in House” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The House Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee gave Rep. Jason Fischer’s bill (HB 311) the nod. The bill would exempt drivers of “fully engaged” autonomous vehicles — aka self-driving cars — from any prohibition on using wireless communication devices. “Driver” is a flexible term: Here, it means someone sitting in the “driver’s seat” of an AV would be able to use a cellphone or use active display television or display monitors, now prohibited. It would also exempt operators from needing a driver’s license if they were in a vehicle operating in fully autonomous mode and even allow such self-driving cars to operate without an occupant.

Parental consent abortion bill backed” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — The House Health Quality Subcommittee voted along mostly partisan lines for the proposal (HB 1335), which goes beyond current requirements that call for parents to be notified when their daughters seek abortions. The vote followed a confrontation between lawmakers and audience members, which led to two people being removed from a committee room. The legislation, if ultimately approved, could spark a lawsuit that could wind up before a revamped Florida Supreme Court. Bill sponsor Erin Grall said her bill was not about creating a test case for the court but is about pursuing issues she believes in.

Human trafficking curriculum in schools? House panel gives OK” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee approved a measure Tuesday to add human trafficking education to the health education curriculum in public schools. The bipartisan legislation (HB 259) is sponsored by state Rep. Patricia Williams, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, and Republican Rep. Rene “Coach P” Plasencia of Orlando. The bill has two more panel stops: The Criminal Justice Subcommittee and the Appropriations Committee. State Sen. Perry Thurston, Jr., a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, is carrying the companion bill (SB 982). The legislation aims to teach students about “the dangers and signs of human trafficking,” according to the bill’s language.

Pharmacist ‘collaborative practice’ bill clears second committee” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — A bill that would allow pharmacists to test for and treat certain conditions cleared the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee Tuesday. The originally filed version of HB 111, sponsored by Rep. Rene Plasencia, would have allowed pharmacists to test for and treat the flu and strep throat. A bill allowing pharmacists to enter collaborative practice with a doctor and treat other maladies was folded in at a prior committee stop. That agreement would allow pharmacists to make treatment decisions in some instances, such as supplying a diabetic patient who has run out of insulin, if a doctor signs off ahead of time. To qualify for expanded authority, pharmacists would have to complete a training regimen every two years.

House ‘AOB’ changes clear another hurdle” via the News Service of Florida — Though details differ, the House and Senate are continuing to move forward with proposals that would revamp the controversial insurance practice known as “assignment of benefits.” The House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee approved a bill (HB 7065), sponsored by Rep. Bob Rommel that would place limits on attorney fees in so-called AOB disputes and make a series of other changes. The House vote came a day after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a Senate version (SB 122), sponsored by Sen. Doug Broxson. Rommel said abuse of the AOB process is causing increased property-insurance rates for homeowners across the state. “If you own a home, you’re paying a higher premium because of bad actors,” Rommel said.

AOB changes advance: Bob Rommel’s bill to limit attorney fees in assignment of benefits disputes is continuing to make way through the House.

House panel approves ‘dignity for incarcerated women’ bill” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A bill that would require prisons and jails to provide all necessary feminine hygiene products and give women inmates some privacy protections from male corrections officers won approval Tuesday from the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. House Bill 49, sponsored by Democratic state Reps. Shevrin Jones of West Park and Amy Mercado of Orlando, the “Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act,” requires that the Florida Department of Corrections and Department of Juvenile Justice and county jails make feminine hygiene products and other products available as needed at no costs, ending a situation where only limited supplies are available and women sometimes are forced to go without.


Assignment editors — Sen. Doug Broxson will lead more than 125 supporters of assignment of benefits (AOB) reform in a march to Florida’s Capitol, and will join the Consumer Protection Coalition to hold a news conference on the front steps of the Old Capitol demonstrating the need to “fix abusive AOB practices that are harming consumers and increasing the cost of home and auto insurance.” Broxson will lead supporters on the march, which will begin at 8:45 a.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Tallahassee, up Adams Street to the front of the Old Capitol. The march will culminate with a news conference on the front steps of the Old Capitol beginning at approximately 9 a.m. During the news conference, the Coalition will announce it has reached a significant milestone in consumer support for AOB reform.

Doug Broxson will be leading a rally Wednesday at the Old Capitol calling for speedy assignment of benefits reform. Image via Colin Hackley.

Assignment editors — Rep. Paul Renner, the Palm Coast Republican slated to be House Speaker in 2022-24, will be addressing a group of constituents visiting the capital for “Volusia Days.” (His district, HD 24, covers part of Volusia County.) That’s at 9:15 a.m., Andrew’s restaurant, 228 S. Adams St., Tallahassee.

Assignment editors — State Sen. Jeff Brandes state Rep. Cary Pigman will hold a joint news conference to discuss SB 972 and HB 821 related to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) autonomous practice, 12:30 p.m., 4th-floor Rotunda.

Today’s legislative committee hearings:

The Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee will consider a proposal that includes making eligibility changes for the Bright Futures scholarship program, 10 a.m., 412 Knott Building.

The Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee and the Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee will review budget issues related to the agencies under their authority: 10 a.m., Agriculture, Environment and General Government, 110 Senate Office Building; 10 a.m., Criminal and Civil Justice, 37 Senate Office Building; 1:30 p.m., Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development, 110 Senate Office Building.

The House will hold a “Tally Talk” program about government actions and their effects on health care markets, 11:30 a.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building.

The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee will take up a bill that would make changes involving the state Alzheimer’s disease Advisory Committee, 1:30 p.m., 412 Knott Building.

The Senate Finance and Tax Committee will consider a proposal that would place additional restrictions on local impact fees, 1:30 p.m., 401 Senate Office Building.

The House will hold a floor session at 2:30 p.m., House Chamber.

The Senate Community Affairs Committee will take up a proposal that would revamp a requirement about insurers notifying customers that property-insurance policies do not include flood coverage, 4 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building.

The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee will consider a bill to create the Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative to help prevent and control future red-tide outbreaks, 4 p.m., 37 Senate Office Building.

The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee will take up a proposal that would make it harder to pass constitutional amendments. Under the plan, two-thirds of voters (or 66.6 percent) would have to approve amendments, up from the current three-fifths, or 60 percent, 4 p.m., 412 Knott Building.

The Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee will take up a school-safety bill that includes allowing trained classroom teachers to carry guns as school “guardians,” 4 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building.


White bean and Bradley’s sausage soup; mixed garden salad and dressings; marinated mushroom salad; egg and potato salad; deli meats, cheeses, lettuce, tomatoes and breads; chicken Marsala; beef bourguignon; crispy fried catfish and malt vinegar aioli; rice pilaf; grilled asparagus; stewed butter beans; Southern-style moon pie for dessert.


Stephanie Murphy announces re-election campaign” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — “It’s official: I’m running for re-election!” she tweeted from her unofficial Twitter account. “I want to keep fighting for you in Congress and for jobs, security, and opportunity for all Americans. We’ve accomplished so much together, but the fight for the future is far from over.” She has drawn a Republican opponent, 23-year-old Armani Salado of Winter Springs.

To view the announcement, click on the image below:

David Straz: Fatal Tampa police shooting in 2014 may have prompted cover-up” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times — After Straz met with the mother of a man shot and killed by Tampa police nearly five years ago, he said Jason Westcott‘s death was a grave tragedy and praised his mother for having the courage to speak about it publicly. Straz suggested the investigation of the shooting undertaken while his mayoral opponent Jane Castor was police chief might have been a cover-up. “There’s been an injustice here. And, who knows, perhaps even a cover-up,” he said to reporters. When asked why he thought there was a cover-up, Straz replied: “Read the newspaper.” A Tampa Bay Times investigation in 2014 raised questions about the raid, and the police department’s use of confidential informants.

Meanwhile …Let the voting begin: Mail ballots sent to 55K Tampa voters” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections sent out more than 55,000 mail ballots to registered voters who requested them. The city of Tampa has nearly 240,000 registered voters. Voting by mail is quickly becoming the most popular way for voters to cast a ballot. In the March 5 election, nearly 23,000 voters returned a mail ballot. That accounts for 47 percent of all votes. The rest either voted early or on Election Day at their registered precincts. “A rainy day like today is a good reminder of the convenience of vote by mail,” Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer said after mailing the ballots.


Court refuses to rehear Everglades drilling case” via the News Service of Florida — An appeals court rejected a request to hold another hearing after a three-judge panel ruled last month that the state should issue a permit for exploratory oil drilling in the Everglades. The decision was a victory for Kanter Real Estate, LLC, a major Broward County landowner that has battled the Florida Department of Environmental Protection over a permit to drill a well on about five acres in the Everglades. A panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled Feb. 5 that the Department of Environmental Protection improperly rejected a recommended order by an administrative law judge, who said in 2017 that a permit should be approved for Kanter to drill the exploratory well on land it owns.

Florida’s 50 safest cities: Four are in the Tampa Bay area, one cracks the Top 10.” via Elizabeth Djinis of the Tampa Bay Times —  Four Tampa Bay cities found themselves among the 50 safest cities in Florida, based on a recent survey conducted by consumer research company SafeWise. SafeWise compared each city’s violent crime rate and property crime rate to national numbers. All the cities on the list had a lower crime rate than the national average of 4.49 incidents per 1,000 people. Yet only one of the Tampa Bay cities on the list held the distinction of being named into the top ten. And that city is Oldsmar, which ranks as the 8th safest city in Florida. Oldsmar has a violent crime rate of 0.89 incidents per 1,000 people and 20.31 incidents of property crime per 1,000 people.


Lenny Curry wins re-election outright” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — With 99 percent of ballots counted, Jacksonville Mayor Curry held a strong lead with 57.8 percent of voters backing him. Curry faced opposition from City Council member Anna Brosche, who tangled often with Curry when she was council president. She was at 24 percent of the vote. With that margin, Curry finishes above the 50 percent threshold needed to win outright and avoid a May run-off election. Like Curry, Brosche is a Republican and an accountant. Both were elected to their posts in 2015. Brosche passed on seeking another term for her at-large council seat and set out to engineer a political upset. Curry countered that Brosche had voted overwhelmingly for his priorities and his appointments to city boards.

Jacksonville voters grant Sheriff Mike Williams a second term” via Ben Conarck of the Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville voters overwhelmingly approved a second term for Williams, defeating Democratic challenger Tony Cummings. Williams has presided over the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office during a time when the city’s persistent violent crime problem has become a hotly contested political issue. In response to criticism, Williams emphasized his agency’s acquisition of new crime-fighting technologies and his collaborative approach to combat the issue with Curry and State Attorney Melissa Nelson. Despite the city’s stubborn gang and gun violence challenges, police shootings have declined significantly under Williams, though there is a backlog of investigations at both the Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney’s Office.

Ju’Coby Pittman, Tameka Gaines Holly will duel in runoff for Jacksonville District 8 Council post” via Beth Reese Cravey of the Florida Times-Union — Incumbent Pittman will face challenger Gaines Holly in a May 14 runoff for the District 8 seat. Pittman was appointed to the seat last summer by then-Gov. Scott after he suspended freshman council member Katrina Brown, who faced federal fraud charges alongside fellow suspended — but unrelated — councilman Reggie Brown. Both Browns have pleaded not guilty and have not yet had a trial. Katrina Brown challenged Pittman to reclaim her seat. The other District 8 hopefuls were Gaines Holly, Diallo-Sekou Seabrooks and Albert Wilcox Jr.

Randy White keeps District 12 seat on Jacksonville City Council” via Christopher Hong of the Florida Times-Union — White, a retired Jacksonville Fire and Rescue administrator, won a full term on the City Council by defeating attorney David Taylor. White initially took over the District 12 seat in a special election last summer, filling the seat vacated by Doyle Carter. White, a longtime political insider who had the support of the city’s Republican establishment, spent 32 years in the city’s fire department. He was a president of the firefighters’ union before accepting an assistant chief position in former Mayor John Peyton’s administration. This election was the third bid by Taylor to join the council.

Jim Overton wins full term as Duval County Tax Collector” via the Florida Times-Union — Overton coasted to his first full term in office, out-polling a Democratic rival for the second time in four months. His edge over term-limited City Council member John Crescimbeni was larger than Republican Overton’s narrow win over Mia Jones in November. The tax collector administers a roughly $17.5 million budget and oversees the 10 sites that are often known as the “DMV,” where residents receive driver’s licenses and transfer vehicle titles. The agency also collects property taxes, among other functions.

Lauren Poe re-elected as mayor of Gainesville” via the Gainesville Sun — Poe earned 7,158 votes, totaling 61.8 percent of the total votes. Candidate Jenn Powell finished second in the four-way race with 2,138 votes, or 18.5 percent. Candidate Jennifer Reid pulled about 1,800 votes, for 15.6 percent, and Marlon Bruce finished last with less than 500 votes, at 4 percent. With the win, Poe will serve nearly 12 years on the City Commission, both as a mayor and commissioner.

— “Hayes-Santos re-elected to Gainesville City Commission” via Andrew Caplan of the Gainesville Sun

Breaking overnight —Tallahassee Democrat shuttering press; print operations will be moved to Panama City” via the Tallahassee Democrat — The Tallahassee Democrat is closing its production facilities in May and will begin printing and packaging the newspaper at the Panama City News Herald. The move affects about 46 employees at the Gannett Co.-owned plant. Some of those employees may be considered for Panama City News-Herald open positions. The move is not expected to significantly change delivery times of the Tallahassee Democrat publications.

Report: Leon County again ranked No. 1 in Florida for new cases of chlamydia” via WTXL-TV — According to a newly released study, Leon County leads all of Florida’s 67 counties for the rate of newly diagnosed cases of chlamydia — for the fourth year in a row. According to the 2019 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps tool released by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Leon County is ranked No. 1 in the state for newly diagnosed cases of chlamydia. According to data from past Health Ranking studies, Leon County has taken the top spot in the state for STD infections for at least four years.


Donald Trump names new FAA boss with Boeing grounding as backdrop” via Kevin Liptak of CNN — Trump nominated former Delta Airlines executive Steve Dickson, who retired recently as Delta’s vice president for flight operations, to the FAA role. The agency had been without a permanent chief for more than a year. The administrator role was filled in an acting capacity by Daniel Elwell for 14 months. The White House had eyed Dickson for months to take the job. Trump made the selection before the current controversy surrounding the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max jets, the aircraft involved in two deadly crashes over the past several months.

Rick Scott visits Port Canaveral to highlight federal funding for Florida seaports — Scott visited Port Canaveral as part of his Fighting for Florida budget agenda tour, which includes asking for more than $140 million in reimbursements that the state spent covering the federal share for Florida ports. Earlier, Scott also visited JAXPORT and Port Tampa Bay.

Rick Scott visits Port Canaveral to highlight one of his top budget agendas, more than $140 million investment for Florida Ports.

— 2020 —

Bernie Sanders hires former reporter who secretly advised campaign, deleted 20K tweets” via Christal Hayes of USA Today — The report in The Atlantic notes David Sirota, an investigative reporter focused on politics and money, had been working for months for Sanders‘ campaign before his role was officially announced. Sanders’ campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, told USA TODAY that Sirota started in an unofficial capacity on Feb. 20, less than one month ago. The publication noted while helping Sanders’ campaign, Sirota had blasted other Democrats vying for the White House. Most of the examples cited by the publication were before Sirota started secretly advising Sanders’ campaign. After being contacted by The Atlantic, the publication notes more than 20,000 of Sirota’s tweets were deleted.

Bernie Sanders has officially brought on a journalist who had been secretly working for the campaign for months, mostly by badmouthing other Democrats.

Another Trump Facebook election” via Sara Fischer of Axios — While Democrats’ campaign launches have sucked up national attention, Trump’s re-election campaign has quietly spent nearly twice as much as the entire Democratic field combined on Facebook and Google ads, according to data from Facebook and Google’s political ad transparency reports. Political advertising strategists say that this level of ad spend on digital platforms this early in the campaign season is unprecedented. The data (captured between December 2018 and now) provides a window into the Trump campaign’s 2020 strategy, which until now has been virtually invisible aside from a few rallies. “The worldview from the Trump campaign is different than anything we’ve ever seen,” says Michael Beach, CEO of marketing analytics firm Cross Screen Media.


Ron Matus: In defense of Florida’s public schools — and school choice” via Florida Politics — I agree that Florida should do better with funding. If I were king, I’d reward our educators because they’re getting such good results. But the correlation between spending and outcomes isn’t as strong as many people believe. And it’s downright Twilight Zone to suggest private school scholarships are part of the “budgetary bleeding of public schools.” The amount of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship is about 60 percent of full per-pupil spending in district schools. That’s why multiple studies conclude the program saves taxpayer money that can be reinvested in public schools, and not a single study shows otherwise. The real fiscal nightmare would occur if the program ended and 100,000 low-income students flooded into public schools. Construction costs alone would be in the billions.

Joe Henderson: Medical marijuana move shows Tallahassee can make good decision” via Florida Politics — While no one will confuse DeSantis for being a closet liberal, the new Governor has shown a pragmatic streak. It’s refreshing, which may explain why his approval ratings are skyrocketing. The state should have more important things on its plate. Republicans claim to embrace freedom and regulatory relief, but they’re the ones who came up with the absurd ban in the first place. The temptation to meddle in how people live their lives can be overwhelming for the holier-than-thou crowd. This medical marijuana victory was small in the big picture, but it was important. It’s too soon to say common sense is the wave of the future in the state capital, but we can always hope.

Florida’s Safety Net Hospital Alliance is the cash-rich nexus of Florida’s ‘hospital-industrial complex’” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist — The Florida Safety Net Hospital Alliance has the same motive every time the legislature is in Session: convince state lawmakers and officials to adopt arbitrary mathematical funding formulas crafted specifically to divert hundreds of millions of dollars away from other Florida hospitals and specifically into the coffers of its privileged members. Undoubtedly, the alliance’s executives and government lobbyists and public relations experts it keeps on retainer, bristle at the use of the term “profitable” to describe their members. That’s because each member hospital is organized as not-for-profit corporations, a legal label they use to their advantage to convince lawmakers and government budget hawks that the members of the alliance should be given special levels of deference.


Keaton Alexander, Silver Palm Consulting: El Maximo Ranch Holdings, FTG Development, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

Daphnie Bercher, GrayRobinson: Village of Estero

Ronald Brise, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Town of Havana

Alisa Ann Coe: Earthjustice

Steve Crisafulli, Crisafulli Consulting: Beer Industry of Florida, University of Central Florida Foundation

Michael Eckert, Hopping Green & Sams: Association of Florida Community Developers

Mike Grissom, Becker & Poliakoff: Florida Association of Condominiums to Support Self Determination

Jon Johnson, Melanie Brown, Darrick McGhee, Johnson & Blanton: American Council of Engineering Companies of Florida

David Ramba, Allison Carvajal, Thomas Hobbs, Evan Power, Ramba Consulting Group: Florida Society of Ambulatory Surgical Centers

William Rubin, Heather Turnbull, Amy Bisceglia, Erica Chanti, Christopher Finkbeiner, Matthew Sacco, Cameron Yarbrough, Rubin Turnbull & Associates: Animal Defense Coalition, Bluegreen Vacations, Florida East Coast Industries

Robert Schenck, The Legis Group: Florida Family Law Reform Political Action Committee

Timothy Stanfield, Greenberg Traurig: Government Services Group

Sam Wagoner, Sunrise Consulting Group: School District of Manatee County

— ALOE —

’Toy Story 4’ trailer: Every parent knows Bonnie’s ‘spork’ toy attachment and is crying” via Sonja Haller of USA TODAY — The first full-length trailer of “Toy Story 4” we get to see Woody reunite with Bo Peep. Everyone knew Woody was sweet on her. In the latest in the Disney/Pixar franchise, Bonnie and her family are headed on a road trip. Her new toy Forky, a spork with googly eyes and pipe cleaners for arms, doesn’t know if he can handle being a toy and says so before jumping out the window: “I am not a toy! I was made for soup, salad — maybe chili. And then the trash!” Woody follows him and the two end up in an antique store where they find an emboldened Bo Peep, voiced by Annie Potts.

To view the trailer, click on the image below:


Happy birthday to former state Rep. Shawn Harrison and 5th Judicial Circuit Judge Larry Metz, as well as Jacob Engels, Bill Helmich, Chris Licata, Melissa Ross, and Aakash Patel.

Today’s Sunburn was written by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Joe Henderson, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
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